Nagoya sumo basyo in doubt?

Decision on tourney set for July 4; betting scandal still growing

Kyodo News

With the gambling scandal rocking the sumo world getting bigger, questions are mounting over whether the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament scheduled for next month should be held as planned.

Embattled Japan Sumo Association Chairman Musashigawa, who spoke at a news conference following an executive meeting Monday, came under fire after a protege was found to have indulged in illicit betting activities.

“We are making preparations to hold the Nagoya meet, but we will have another debate on the issue at an executive meeting on July 4, after we have received a report from the special investigative panel looking into illegal gambling,” Musashigawa said.

Top-division wrestler Miyabiyama, a veteran of the Musashigawa stable who once held the second-highest rank of ozeki, has joined the list of wrestlers linked to illegal gambling on baseball games. But the issue of Musashigawa’s responsibility as his mentor was not raised at the executive meeting.

On July 4, association officials will also deliberate on whether to refrain from revealing the names of association members who have been involved in gambling as well as punishments imposed.

A special third-party panel investigating illegal gambling was also approved. In its first meeting it is to question 29 members who have admitted to gambling on baseball.

Sources at the sumo association said Miyabiyama admitted gambling on baseball in recent police questioning.

In a statement submitted earlier to the association, the 32-year-old admitted gambling on other pursuits, including mah-jongg and “hanafuda” card games.

Miyabiyama debuted in professional sumo in 1998 and reached the rank of ozeki — just below yokozuna — in 2000. He was demoted after eight tournaments but has stayed in the top makuuchi division.

Chiyohakuho of the second-tier juryo division, who belongs to the Kokonoe stable run by former yokozuna great Chiyonofuji, is another new name to surface in the most recent scandal to taint the ancient national sport less than three weeks before the Nagoya meet.